Barangay Ginebra turned the tables late in the final frame to beat Rain or Shine, 98-89, for its third straight win in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Down eight, 67-75, and having been outworked by the Elasto Painters for the bulk of the second and third quarters, the Kings saw everything finally click for them in the last 12 minutes to take the lead for the first time since a 16-2 start in the opening frame.
After a Gabe Norwood trey tied things up at 89 with 3:50 to go, Justin Brownlee sparked a 9-0 finishing attack with a layup and an alley-oop dunk before Scottie Thompson and Stanley Pringle put the finishing touches on the victory the rest of the way.
Brownlee pushed the pace for Ginebra once more with a near-triple double of 39 points, 17 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals on 16-for-25 shooting. Thompson and LA Tenorio backstopped him with 11 points apiece as the Kings hiked their record to 4-2.
"It was a really tough game and honestly, it was the kind of game we needed. I think we needed to have a grind-out, down-the-stretch game," coach Tim Cone said after the game. "The fact that we had to grind this one out was really good for us as a team, I think."
"We're not looking at the win column, we're looking at the loss column. So long as we're able to stay among the leaders in the loss column, we're in good shape because we still feel we can win games. We can't afford to lose games," Cone added.
Aside from their crisp execution on offense, Ginebra's work in holding Rain or Shine scoreless until the final buzzer after that Norwood triple also pleased Cone.
"We have to be willing to play these kind of games and be mentally strong and tough down the stretch and find a way to win and tonight, I thought we played really good defense down the stretch. That was really the key," he said. "I hope they aren't all like this, though, 'cause these are tough ones. Really tough ones."
The Kings will have a short turnaround as they have games on Wednesday and Sunday against Blackwater and Meralco, respectively. Fatigue is admittedly a concern -- especially for Brownlee, who's playing 44.8 minutes per game this conference -- which is why Cone said the team will have to ask its bench (28.8 points per game, ninth) to ramp up its production in the coming weeks.
"We're gonna need to go deeper into our lineup and get a little bit more production from our bench. We have to be a little more cognizant and try to figure out a way to get Justin off the floor more. Justin's really playing heavy, heavy minutes," he said.
Rain or Shine, which slipped to 2-6, were led by Kwame Alexander's 20 points and 10 boards in the losing effort. Norwood and Belga added 14 and 13 each, respectively.
Barangay Ginebra (98) -- Brownlee 39, Thompson 11, Tenorio 11, Pringle 9, Dela Cruz 8, Slaughter 8, Aguilar 8, Caperal 4, Chan 0, Mariano 0.
Rain or Shine (89) -- Alexander 20, Norwood 14, Belga 13, Nambatac 10, Mocon 8, Torres 7, Ponferada 5, Daquioag 4, Rosales 3, Borboran 3, Exciminano 2.
Quarters: 28-20, 46-43, 69-75, 98-89.
- The Kings won the battle on the boards, 44-34.
- There were 11 lead changes and 7 deadlocks throughout this game.
- Rain or Shine vs. NLEX on Oct. 30 at the Cuneta Astrodome
- Barangay Ginebra vs. Blackwater on Oct. 30 at the Cuneta Astrodome